Set Limits Clearly: How to Protect Your Time to Safeguard Your Needs with ADHD
Many of us struggle with too much to do and too little time. While taking on too much is not unique to ADHD, the fear of letting people down which makes it difficult to set limits is common when living with ADHD.
ADHD and "Not Good Enough" To Set Limits
A lifetime of consistent, critical feedback, even if well-meaning, can become internalized as not measuring up as good enough. To compensate, there can be a tendency to do things for others to build yourself up. You may find yourself chiseling away at any time and energy left for yourself and compromising what’s important to you.
When you live with ADHD, the chronic state of being hard on yourself, becoming unglued under pressure, fear of not doing your “best” for others’ sake, feeling lonely or isolated from others, loss of approval, and ignoring your personal rights makes saying no and speaking up extremely difficult.
The costs are huge: loss of time, energy, missed personal opportunities, loss of individual identity, and more.
Here are three ways to comfortably and clearly set limits when you live with ADHD, so you can protect yourself, your time, your rights, and your well-being.
Understand Your Boundaries
A boundary or limit is a line you draw that determines the behaviors of others with you that is acceptable and not acceptable to you. This boundary can be not allowing someone to criticize you, take you for granted, yell at you, contact you only for favors, interrupt you when you are working, etc.
When you live with ADHD, it can be difficult to feel that you are justified in setting a limit. You may want to appear generous, loyal, and well-liked. You may perceive that saying yes or remaining silent is the only way to accomplish approval.
• People may cross your limits because they are unaware of them. It is up to you to make sure no one crosses your line or opens your gate.
Learn How to Set a Limit
It's helpful to use this Roadmap for setting limits especially when you may struggle with what to do when and in what order:
• Inform: “I wish I could, but I can’t….” or “I can’t do that now.”
• Request: “I’m not able to do that, and I’m asking you to stop this conversation about it.”
• Consequence: “If you keep asking me over and over, I’m going to have to cut this conversation short.”
• Follow-Through: “This conversation is over now. I really can’t talk about it anymore.” (leave the room, hang up the phone, etc.)
(Source: Marion Franklin, MCC, The Heart of Laser-Focused Coaching: Boundaries.)
• Deliver the consequence with grace and compassion but make sure you follow through so your words will have weight and are meaningful.
• It’s Ok to make mistakes or change your mind. You are allowed a do-over.
It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for other people’s feelings and your personal worth is not dependent on other people’s actions or decisions.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it is self-care. Being loyal to yourself results in greater overall well-being.
Rather than being dependent on others for approval, it can be helpful to convert others’ positive affirmation to becoming self-caring, self-accepting, and self-affirming about your own needs, limits, and priorities. In turn, as you align with what’s most important to you, your positive self-image will bring you a more meaningful connection with others.
• Once you start setting limits, you may feel more respected and confident for knowing what’s important to you, taking care of yourself, and managing your time.
• Understand Your Boundaries
• Learn How to Set a Limit
• Please Yourself
Experiment with these steps and remember to follow through with a consequence if needed and let me know how it goes!
PS. Need more assistance with clearly setting limits so you can take care of yourself, your rights, and your well-being?
Contact me for an ADHD Strategy Assessment and we can talk about some additional steps you can put into place right away!
Transforming Parents Lives®